Home to more than 325,000 small businesses—employing nearly 2 million people—Los Angeles has more small businesses than any metropolitan region in the country. As California’s largest nonprofit microlender, we feel called to lend a hand (and some much-needed capital) to the enterprising small businesses owners in the region.
Pilot lending success
Opportunity Fund recently concluded a successful pilot to test our microlending in the Los Angeles market. We provided loans to 550 entrepreneurs in Greater Los Angeles, totaling a $3.6 million invested. We would like to thank Citi for providing $100,000 in trailblazing seed funding for our expansion to Los Angeles. Through our lending pilot, Opportunity Fund was able to help business owners like Ana, owner of Arantxa Fashions in Downtown LA, and Natasha and Freya, co-owners of Cool Haus ice cream in Culver City. Click below to watch a video message from Ana, in which she talks about being in debt to a loan shark after starting her business. Now, with her loan from Opportunity Fund, she’s finally getting ahead.
Ambitious plans for growth
In the coming year, Opportunity Fund plans to lend $4 million to help more than 600 entrepreneurs in Greater Los Angeles to grow their business, boost their income, and hire new employees. This is an ambitious plan for growth. Combined with our plans to continue to scale lending operations in Northern California, Opportunity Fund is poised to lend $12 million in 2013, helping twelve hundred California entrepreneurs get the affordable financing they need, providing a path to economic prosperity for them and their families, and helping to rebuild our economy. Meanwhile, our microsavings program is running as strong as ever. We remain a national leader in offering matched savings accounts, and we will help hundreds of low-income people save over a million dollars this year.
Our Vice President of Lending, Marco Lucioni is now based in Los Angeles, and we’ve hired a staff of 10 loan officers and customer service representatives from the community to help meet demand in the region.
President Clinton is on board
President Clinton is a champion for Opportunity Fund’s expansion to Los Angeles. Last summer he invited Opportunity Fund’s CEO Eric Weaver to the Clinton Global Initiative convening to discuss how to get America’s economy back on track. There, Opportunity Fund was commended for our work in Northern California and our plans to expand to Greater Los Angeles. Natasha Case from Cool Haus was on hand to share how the loan she received during our pilot lending in Los Angeles helped her to buy a truck to add to her fleet of gourmet mobile ice cream trucks, expanding her ice cream empire to 5 cities with 55 employees!
We need your vote!
You can help us win $100,000 in the LA2050 competition, sponsored by the Goldhirsh Foundation. We need your vote! And we need everyone to tell your friends, post on Facebook, and tweet it to help us get the word out! (Voting ends April 17th.)
Excited about California’s microfinance movement?
Thousands of small business owners in California need someone to believe in their ideas. You can invest in their dreams. Please consider making or increasing your donation to Opportunity Fund, now or in the coming months, as we roll up our sleeves on this ambitious plan to help thousands of low-income entrepreneurs chart a path to economic opportunity.
We hope you’re as excited about this news as we are. If you have any questions, feel free to comment here. Or send us a message. We look forward to what lies ahead!
-David Krimm, Chair, Board of Directors
-Eric Weaver, Founder & CEO